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Public sector unions “absolutely welcome” Government’s drive to transform the public sector, and are not putting up any resistance to it, in principle, as some public sector workers are not satisfied that the present system is facilitating their optimum efficiency.
This was the view expressed by the President of the Jamaica Civil Service Association and General Secretary of the Jamaica Confederation of Trade Unions (JCTU), Wayne Jones, in an exclusive interview with the Jamaica Information Service (JIS).
“We have found general support for the principle of public sector transformation, as well as the particular process we have been pursuing. The feedback we have received is that there is broad acceptance of the need for transformation, which is in the interest of everyone, including public sector workers,” Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Public Sector Transformation Unit (PSTU), Patricia Sinclair McCalla said.
Asked specifically whether public sector unions were apprehensive about and resistant to Government’s public sector transformation programme, Mr. Jones, who represents the broader Jamaica Confederation of Trade Unions on an advisory committee to the Government’s Public Sector Transformation Unit, says the unions were ahead of the State in recognising the need for public sector transformation.
Mr. Jones stated that from the first Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Government and the unions, in February, 2004, the unions committed themselves to public sector reform. He noted that an important component of the MOUs was the development of a modern, efficient and properly equipped public sector.
“It was our insistence that no opportunity should be missed to improve the quality of service in the public sector. We are glad to see the State coming around to this,” Mr. Jones said.
The outspoken and often hard-hitting trade union leader dismissed the view that trade union leaders did not understand the imperatives of development, in this globalised environment. He said the Jamaican trade union movement was quite aware of the necessity of public sector transformation for national development, and that they were global developments which point to the need for flexibility.
“I have been to Geneva to attend meetings of the International Labour Organization (ILO) and have seen people who used to sell tickets and offer other services replaced by machines in another year. I know some things are inevitable and that the public sector is not immune to these changes,” Mr. Jones said.
He stated, however, that what was important was that the public sector transformation process be approached systematically and transparently. The establishment of inter-disciplinary teams is a part of the process of public sector transformation and, already, such teams are being put in place.
He welcomed the systematic approach and said, once information trickles down at the local level, “the pain that some people envisage in this whole transformation process”, is not likely.
Mr. Jones represents the unions on the Consultative Mentoring Group (CMG) which acts as an advisory body to the Public Sector Transformation Unit.